Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an Entire Community Ascend to Heaven? | BYU Studies

Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an Entire Community Ascend to Heaven?

Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an Entire Community Ascend to Heaven?
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Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an Entire Community Ascend to Heaven?

Author David J. Larsen

One of the most significant additions to the Book of Genesis in Joseph Smith's inspired translation of the Bible is to the story of the prophet Enoch, who the biblical record briefly implies was taken up into heaven alive. In Joseph Smith's rendering of the story, however, not only Enoch, as an individual, ascends into heaven, but also his entire community. This article explores the notion of communal ascent in ancient Jewish and Christian literature and seeks to find affinities with the story of Enoch's Zion found in the LDS Book of Moses. Ancient narratives such as The History of the Rechabites provide some interesting parallels, however the idea of a group ascending into heaven is more strikingly presented in texts that are arguably designed for ritual purposes, as we see with the biblical Epistle to the Hebrews and the Hodayot and Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice texts from among the Dead Sea Scrolls. We can see in these texts a pattern that entails an individual being taken up into heaven and taught the celestial mysteries, then being appointed to return and teach others so that they can also, as a group, ascend into the heavenly realm.